4 fathers - united in tragedy - exploring their roles as fathers and challenging each other to follow God's intention for their lives.
Such is the premise of a new film that explores the power of fatherhood and the negative consequences of the lack of strong fathers. It's called, "Courageous", and the team at Sherwood Pictures, including Pastor Michael Catt, Executive Pastor Jim McBride, and Associate Pastors Alex and Stephen Kendrick, after much prayer and reflection, has crafted a script that brings to light a number of issues related to fatherhood and attempts to address these issues Biblically.
And, from all indications, not only does it promise to be spiritually and emotionally challenging - something I picked up just from viewing some of the clips that have been shot thus far - but, as Sherwood films "Fireproof", "Facing the Giants", and "Flywheel" have demonstrated, will be characterized by a powerful story and plenty of entertaining elements.
I made the short 3-hour drive from Montgomery to Albany, Georgia recently to spend some time observing the making of "Courageous". Why Albany? Well, it's the home of Sherwood Baptist Church, a 3000-plus member congregation that is not only devoted to ministering in its local community through its ministry programs, but also has as it's God-given ambition to reach the world through film. Sherwood is taking proceeds from its previous films and investing in missions and in the development of an 82-acre sports park that is built on a foundation of ministry.
What did I find on my trip to Southwest Georgia? Well, I was drawn in my the friendliness and the hospitable nature of the people of Sherwood. The staff members and movie volunteers who I encountered demonstrated a high level of servanthood and were quite welcoming to me and the other media representatives that visited the site. This is a congregation that is obviously devoted to doing church and ministry well.
My show, "The Meeting House", on Faith Radio, originated from the set of the film...now, this is not some big Hollywood back lot we're talking about here - it's a neighborhood where several of the houses are being used for the actual scenes of the film. I was set up, along with American Family Radio and Family Life Radio (NY, PA), in the carport of a house, where I was greeted by a steady stream of people associated with the film. Some examples: 2 people who were prominently featured in "Fireproof" - Erin Bethea (Catherine Holt) and Harris Malcom (John Holt, Caleb's father) - are behind the scenes for this new film...Erin is working in makeup and did the daily devotional the day before the radio show, Harris is involved in the prayer team. "Fireproof" actor Ken Bevel returns in "Courageous" as one of the 4 law enforcement officers depicted in the film. One of the things that struck me over and over as I interviewed people associated with the film was that they really "bought in" to the message - not only did they elaborate on their individual roles, but they reflected a love for Christ and an ability to communicate the message of the film effectively.
Time on the set illustrated to me the commitment to quality that is exhibited by the Sherwood team - with a painstaking degree of precision, shots were meticulously set up, repeated "takes" were performed, but there was a real sense of the cast and crew doing this for the glory of God. This is attributable to the amount of prayer that is going on, and the commitment to unity that is demonstrated on the set, beginning with the daily morning devotional, where participants circle up, hear a devotional, and pray together for their efforts to be unified and for God to be glorified.
The Supremacy of Story.
In attempting to "reach the world from Albany, Georgia", the Sherwood team realizes that the message is key. Not only do they desire to make inspiring, entertaining films, but foremost, their desire is to tell compelling stories that teach Biblical truth. Marriages have been saved through "Fireproof" as a result of the absorbing and the application of this truth into lives. I sense that through this film, they want to strengthen men and encourage them to fulfill their God-given role as fathers. Through reaching beyond the walls of the church and telling these stories to the culture at large, God is able to use these depictions to exalt Christ and draw people to a relationship with Him.
To download my weekly podcast featuring interviews from the set, click here.
You can download full conversations from the Meeting House website at http://www.meetinghouseonline.info/.
Thanks so much to the team from Provident Films, Sherwood Pictures, Lovell-Fairchild Communications, and Renaissance Communications for their overwhelming assistance in arranging for me to go to Albany and coordinating the various elements of my experience there.